DENVER – Denver Public Schools will start Thanksgiving break a day early in order to give staff and students more time for self-care and to get vaccinated, the district superintendent announced Wednesday.
“To show our appreciation for you and help you have more time to devote to your health and self-care, we will be starting the Thanksgiving break a day early,” Superintendent Dr. Alex Marrero wrote in a message to district staff. “DPS leadership has decided to make Friday, Nov. 19 a non-attendance day for students, and district-run schools and office buildings will be closed.”
The message said families with kids at charter schools should check with their schools because some charter schools will stay open that day.
Marrero also acknowledged the district is seeing “frequently urgent staffing issues that schools are facing I order to keep their buildings open for in-person instruction.”
“By starting Thanksgiving break one day early, we’re also hoping to extend a ‘thank you’ to our DPS staff members, who have been working tirelessly through another challenging year, to give them time to focus on their health and self-care,” Marrero wrote.
The district announced Tuesday that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Early College, George Washington High School and John H. Amesse Elementary would move to remote learning for Thursday and Friday of this week. George Washington High School is also learning remotely Wednesday.
DPS spokesperson Will Jones said Tuesday district administrators are talking with each school to see if each school has enough staff to operate during the “critical staffing shortage.”
“We are taking this day by day and doing our best to cover the schools that are in need of additional staffing,” Jones said. “When that is not doable, we work to give our families as much notice as possible of the need to temporarily transition to fully remote learning.”
There are other districts in the Denver area working on addressing staffing issues as well. Adams 14, Adams 12 Five, and the Boulder Valley School District announced last week that classes would be canceled for all students this Friday due to staffing challenges.
Marrero’s message on Wednesday said taking Nov. 19 off for district-run schools would allow more time for parents to get their 5-11-year-old children vaccinated and for teachers and other staff to get their own children vaccinated.
“This decision regarding Nov. 19 is also in line with the recommendations of the U.S. Department of Education, which is urging school districts to provide paid time off to staff to get their own children vaccinated,” Marrero wrote.